Out of insight, out of mind? How to (discreetly) learn more about your target audience

Before you can start effectively marketing to your target customers, you need to know who they are. However, basic demographics like their gender, age and annual income aren’t going to suffice; you also need an insight into the nitty-gritty of what makes them tick.

If this idea makes you uncomfortable, it might be because you can’t figure out how you are supposed to learn about people in such depth without giving rise to privacy concerns. Fortunately, there are a fair few answers to this conundrum…

Go undercover in online communities your target customers frequent

There’s no shame in lurking like this to see what these people are saying about your industry or niche when they don’t think you are listening in. Still, you should be careful where exactly you do eavesdrop.

As an Inc. article explains, while software firms should peruse sites where the tech-savvy gather, like Quora, you might be better off looking at certain Facebook groups if you offer parenting solutions instead.

Keep track of hashtags on social media

These can include hashtags relating to your industry, not to mention those that are simply trending, but you reckon could have some relevance for your own offerings.

For example, what if you are a clothing retailer and there are certain hashtags for a music festival that is coming up? You could consider using these hashtags in social media posts drawing attention to clothing items you stock that would look just right when worn by music fans on a festival field.

Question
target customers directly about what they want

Yes, it might initially sound like something of a ‘it might just be crazy enough to work’ point. However, when it comes to getting valuable opportunities for soliciting customers’ thoughts, you could need to put in a certain amount of legwork.   

You could, for example, use a platform like ON24 Forums to hold your own virtual networking events – and keep attendees so engaged that they don’t even realize how much they are letting slip about themselves.

Piggyback on what other people have found out

One Entrepreneur article calls this “entry-level market research at its finest”, adding that you could consult case studies and psychological analyses from sources including market researchers, industry reporters and even, to a certain extent, sociologists.

You may find that competitors of your company have undertaken and published market research of their own – in which case, why not take advantage of it? You could also look closely at how these businesses reach out to their potential customers.

Consider what products and services your target customers are already using

Many people might be loyal to specific brands because they continue to fulfill certain practical needs. So, if you have established what brands people are buying from, you can proceed to investigate what products and services are in particularly high demand. 

Many members of your target audience might casually mention these in online conversations, making it easier for you to figure out if – or just how – you could beat other companies at their own game.